According to the New York Times, Senator John McCain’s daughter Megan McCain recently finished writing a "flattering" picture book about the life of her father. Of course, the book leaves out less "kid-friendly" topics like his 5.5 year imprisonment during the Vietnam War, his womanizing and abandonment of his first wife, his involvement in the Keating Five. Ms. McCain has allegedly "written" a book more focused on Senator McCain’s "patriotism" and his "never quit spirit". Is there anyway in which such an expression of love could be problematic? I think so….
First of all, when you "write" a book about a political/historical figure and you leave out the political/historical facts about their life, their character, their political dealings, their involvement in corruption, what you end up with is a fine piece of propaganda….or what my dad calls a "leatherbound pack of lies".
The fact that the book is aimed at children should be even more troubling. If anything, kids shouldn’t be inculcated with the kind of mythology about their leaders that leads to a candy-coated and false view of American history. If anything, it would seem that telling the children at an early age the truth about their country’s past dealings with Native Americans or Japanese/American citizens should be of paramount importance…or perhaps it’s better to indoctrinate them with inaccurate jingoistic pseudo-historical mantras about how we "civilized" the continent, and brought liberty to Nicaragua…
In a sense, it is touching that Ms. McCain would go to the trouble to pay such tribute to her father. Nevertheless, as grand a gesture as this might be, there are times when children need to recognize that their parents may in fact be bad people. There are numerous accounts from the children of corrupt politicians, nazi bureaucrats, and even serial killers describing what a kind and generous father, or mother, they had and how pleasant it was to have "daddy hold me in his arms".
Nevertheless, despite the fact that daddy came to your games or bought you a car, what daddy does when he goes to work, how daddy treats his employees, how daddy lies to thousands of Americans, how daddy uses his influence to push through laws that benefit the ultra-rich at the expense of everyone else, matters a great deal. To write a book which leaves out the important aspects of daddy’s past, especially when daddy is running for the most powerful office in the world, and then market it to kids, or to parents who should know better than to buy their kids propaganda, strikes me as somewhat duplicitous.